I recently reviewed Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, and by complete coincidence, I also just watched the Disney movie Enchanted. No connection besides the name! But dare I say it was…enchanting? 🙂 It’s also a great fit for Once Upon a Time!
I’ve seen Enchanted at least twice, but it loses none of its charm on repeated viewings. The movie is essentially Disney poking a bit of gentle fun at Disney. Starting with an oh-so-sweet animated sequence about Giselle, her forest friends, and her handsome prince Edward, everything changes when the wicked queen banishes Giselle to “a place where there are no happy endings.” Giselle finds herself in the middle of Times Square, and in live-action as Amy Adams. After scrambling through New York a bit, she encounters Robert (Patrick Dempsey), who reluctantly tries to help her at the urging of his six-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, Prince Edward (James Marsden) comes to New York to find his lost love, accompanied by Giselle’s chipmunk friend Pip, and pursued by Nathaniel (Timothy Spall), who secretly is working for the evil queen (Susan Sarandon). Chaos, hilarity, romance and a dragon all ensue.
This movie is so much fun on so many levels. There are fairy tale and Disney references galore, with poisoned apples, a wicked queen resembling Maleficent, and of course a dropped slipper. Giselle’s forest friends seem to include animals from several other Disney movies, like mice, racoons, rabbits and deer. The themes are in some ways even better, taking trends from the early Disney movies (like the incredibly rapid romances of, say, Snow White and Cinderella) and stretching them to absurdity.
The characters are really brilliant as well. I love the way Giselle and Robert start out as complete opposites, and then both influence each other for the better. Giselle believes unreservedly in true love and romance, and sees beauty and goodness everywhere. Robert is jaded and cynical, practical to a fault. Together, Giselle begins to tap into deeper, more meaningful emotions, while Robert finds unexpected romantic depths.
And then of course the supporting cast is hilariously funny. Edward is beautifully, blissfully oblivious and self-absorbed, and charges about through New York in a wonderful way. One of my favorite moments may be when he stabs a bus, mistaking it for a monster. Nathaniel, on the other hand, begins to question the nature of his relationship with the evil queen, and I love it when he calls into a radio show to pour out his problems. As to the evil queen, Susan Sarandon appears to be having a wonderful time camping it up, fantastically villainous and over-the-top.
There’s really an enormous number of funny bits though. Pip’s efforts to pantomime messages when he discovers he can’t talk in New York…the ridiculously large skirt on Giselle’s wedding dress…or Giselle’s summoning of New York pigeons, rats and cockroaches to help her clean Robert’s apartment (“oh well, it’s always nice to make new friends!”) And I love the musical number in Central Park. It’s a great song, there’s beautiful scenery, and I love Robert’s practical asides in the middle of it all (“wait, they know this song too?”)
All in all, Enchanted combines lots of my favorite things in fairy tales–clever references to spot, lots of humor, characters with complexity, and of course, an acknowledgement of all the wonderful strangeness of the original versions!